Monday, November 09, 2009

Open Letter from Tom

I know Tom sent this letter to many of his family members but I felt he spoke his heart and it needed to be part of the Chatterbox files. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your pride and joy. I, for one, could feel the warmth of the fire.

My son became a teenager today. I'm so proud of the boy he is and the man he's becoming.

Two weeks ago, he and I celebrated the end of an 18 month journey together. A Father/Son program through our church designed to offer boys a Christian perspective on manhood. It involved a novel and separate father and son study guides, then culminated in a camp out ceremony. Andrew now has his own real sword to mark the occasion. A part of that ceremony was a letter written from each dad to his son. Following is an excerpt from mine.

I am so proud of you. I am proud of your talents and accomplishments; your servant heart; how you give of yourself to your little brother, how you love and support your little sister. I am proud of the respect and honor you show your mother, both alone and in front of others. It’s a great indication of how you will treat women as you grow, and it warms my heart. I am proud of everything you are and are becoming. I can see you allowing God to work in you ... And it humbles me. It fills me with joy and sorrow; anticipation and apprehension. It’s difficult to look ahead and see the point of letting go on the not-so-distant horizon. I can’t wait for the emerging man, but I mourn the loss of the fleeting child...

...Pray for direction over what you can control and for obedience and acceptance in the areas that are in God’s control. If you do that, you can guard against fear. For if you abide in Christ, you can rest in the knowledge that that His perfect plan is in place. You need only listen and follow. Remember the words of Paul. “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

There was much more, but the rest is top secret. It was fun, touching, memorable. Hopefully an important and defining moment in Andrew's transition into teenhood.

That same weekend, Andrew finished his run of the middle school play, "How to Eat Like a Child." Since entering middle school in 5th grade, he has been a part of all 5 shows. He's shown his talents in everything from support to lead roles to musical solos. In an interesting side note, he has spoken the first word or sung the first note in three of the five shows (including this one). This show was an ensemble cast in which Andrew displayed impressive comic timing in a show that was fun, silly and very enjoyable. Andrew, through his own talent and an awesome middle school theatre program has had the opportunity to become quite a fine actor at a relatively young age.

As soon as the show was over, Andrew went directly into swim practices and participated in his first Wesleyan swim meet on Saturday. Dare I say, he performed swimmingly. He really looked great, especially considering he has only been a summer swimmer, up against a whole lot of obviously year-round swimmers. He swam in two solo events and two relay events and kept his team in the mix.

Throughout all this, he has kept up impressive grades as well. Recent test scores even had him selected to participate in the Duke Early Talent Search. This is a program which allows him to take the SATs this year with a select group of 7th graders. It gives him a "practice round" and puts him in a group Duke will be keeping their eyes on over the coming years.

It's a lot for a thirteen-year-old and his parents to be proud of. And we are. We can't believe he is becoming a teenager, but here he is. And we couldn't be more pleased with what we see.

We love you, Andrew. May God bless your life. Happy 13th Birthday!
*I get to hear success stories like this one from the parents of all our nine. It never ceases to amaze me. Then when I have the opportunity to experience it first hand, like the past four days alone with Joe (Andrew too!), it just blows me away.
For me, for ALL of you, I will "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving." (Colossians 4:2).

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